Secrets of the H1 tag revealed

The H1 tag is an important element on the list of things to help you to rank.

Whilst not the most important tag it is still a useful way to emphasise the meaning of your content. Both to search engines and human readers.

WordPress for example puts the Title of the individual post into a H1 tag when listing snippets of multiple posts on one page. This would be the logical way to organise the content as it denotes content that is separate to each other, but related to the site topic.

On an individual post however only one H1 tag appears. This is correct as there is only one chunk of distinct information, all other information is of lessor but related importance and is given H2 and H3 tags.

Evidence has shown that the structure of a wordpress blog is exceedingly pleasing to Google. The structure follows logical patterns for the organisation of content. Having multiple H1 tags on one page does not seem to harm the ranking as the content justifies separation from other content on the page. whilst in relation to the site content as a whole.

The contents page of a book would justify chapters being listed in multiple H1 tags. The individual chapter pages would have the chapter title as the H1 tag and nowhere else, if sub headings had to be used it would be the H2 and H3, in order of hierarchy.

Here are some useful links on the matter.
H1, H2, H3 Placement, per W3C standards Jan 2006
How important are the “H1” in SE optimization and why? Jan 2007
Importance Of Headings And Sub Headings In Optimizing Pages? July 2006
How Important are H1 (Header)Tags August 2005
Search Engine Ranking Factors Date unknown
Blog SEO Tip #7: Heading tags
Stephan Feb 2006
What Attribute Ranks Better Bold or H1 On A Page? March 2005

11 thoughts on “Secrets of the H1 tag revealed”

  1. Are you sure that’s the case? I took a quick browse through a few random WordPress blogs, and they all used H1 for the title of the blog, and H2 for individual posts.

  2. I’m sure that is the case on this blog, however you are correct. After looking at a few random blogs. The first post is h1 whilst the follwing posts are h2.

    It may be the template. I shall investigate.

    However, I still hold to the premise that multiple H1 tags on one page can be logical. I have not read any evidence to the contrary. I’ve read a lot of unsubstantiated opinion with nothing to back it up.

    Of course I’m always willing to look at new evidence if you have any.

  3. From my experience, I am in agreement with Zack. If you look at my blog – which uses the k2 wordpress theme – the H1 tag is used for the blog title ‘Joe’s Sem Blog’ and a H3 tag for individual post titles. I keep meaning to look at changing this, but I always find I have bigger fish to fry in the meantime!

    p.s. nice fresh new look to the site

  4. It seems it’s not the WordPress engine that decides where the h1, h2 tags go but the template.

    The default theme is h1, h2, h2….etc.

    I don’t use a text title, so don’t need a h1. I think it’s probably correct to have more then one h1 on one page if the context is correct and it is not spam. However it’s quite possible it could trigger a spam filter.

    I will take suggestions if anyone has a thought on this matter.

  5. It is a bug in this particular theme that I actually pointed out to the author when it was first released

    My own theme isn’t ideal, as the H1 is for the blog title, and I don’t need to rank for a version of my name that isn’t even complete – it is one of the many things on my blog that I need to fix.

    There are lots of blogs that use H1 incorrectly, just take a peek at sometime – blogs tend to rank despite all the bugs we introduce, and sometimes good content is much more important than SEO

  6. I agree Andy.

    One of the things I like to do when not online is making curries. There are a lot of spices that go into a good curry, just like there are a lot of elements in getting a page to rank.
    If I over do the coriander, or do not put enough fennel seeds in the curry, it probably wont matter to the people who eat it. It will still be a good curry.
    Just like you can have elements on your page that do not reflect best pratice SEO and yet still have a winning page.

    I don’t think I have ever had a perfectly optimised page over the 9 years I have been in the business of getting eyeballs to websites. But I still have had the success.

    It’s interesting you use Darren Rowse as an example, I have noted a number of mistakes on that blog and yet it doesn’t seem to have harmed its progress.

    As you say, good content, great content even, will always win the day. but a bit of tweaking here and there will help improve things by maybe a few percent, but it’s still worth it.

  7. Just a continuation of this, Google claim they have just modifoed how the site command works.

    If you use you see that my whole site is in supplemental

    The description being used in every supplemental result (at least until next update), has a spelling error, because that is what was in the footer of each article just before the disclosure. (I have actually just corrected it).

    My meta tag description was spelled correctly – the plugin I was using was actually making a real mess of my descriptions so I am going to manually code it.

    I have still been gaining up to 50% search traffic, and not just for targeted keywords.

  8. Hmm correction scratch that – might be time to get some sleep – I was sure I was seeing the spelling error in the supplemental results.

  9. Haha, many a time I have posted comments and should have been in bed.

    The supplemental thing is interesting though, it’s obviously shifted. My thinking is that it’s easier to get into supplemental but it is not the penalty it once was. Have no hard data, just a theory after reading a ton of current stuff on it.

  10. Thanks for the article. As for the hyrachy aspect I think having only 1 h1 in most cases is best but sometimes having multiple h1 tags is the way to go and I have not yet seen any proof this is beeing treated negatively by Google.

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